Monday, February 29, 2016

Monday Musings

Tara Crowley. 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Friends from Oakland.  Fun dinner Saturday night.  A drive down the delta on Sunday to the tiny town of Locke.  It's always fun to go there, especially with folks who've never been.  We always meet new and colorful people there. Sunday we met up with a friend, J. who lives there, and he introduced us to R., who has lived there for 30 years.  R. took us into his wood shop and showed us his latest projects which were exquisite.  I asked him if he had a web site of his work.  "No. I kinda like to stay below the radar."  But he did give me a business card.

A lot of people in this town like to stay under the radar, I'll bet.  That's the way they like it.  Most times, I come away thinking I'd like to live there.  It's really only 45 minutes from us, but if feels like a world away.  The town's people really do run the place.  It's all hands on deck when projects need doing.  Today, J. and R. were out mowing and weed whacking.  We all walked out into a meadow, and smack dab in the middle was the most monster sized artichoke plant I have ever seen.  Chokes on steroids.  I wish I had a photo.  It was the Holy Grail of thistles.  I heard the Angels sing.

Then we walked up to the slough.  Snodgrass slough.  There were guys out there in their flatbottom fishing boat.  The water was absolutely still.  Looked brackish.  A tad eerie.  I took a picture (above).

Gothic, right?

And now, the last of February fades away.

Friday, February 19, 2016


Last night we watched an amazing movie, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.  Quite gripping, agonizing, uplifting.  The struggle of a human to communicate against all odds.  The life of the mind in an airtight container.  What happens to us and those around us when our body fails us.  When the mechanics go ass over teakettle.

My parents have decided not to look further into a retirement community in the Napa Valley, two hours away.  They want to be closer to my sis and me.  We still have the unsettled question of what to do in an emergency.  God forbid something life changing but not life-ending occurs.  What are we, their children, supposed to do?  Dad turned 84 this month, and he is in fine and dandy shape.  Mother continues to slowly decline after almost 16 years of living with Parkinsons.

One of the things Mother loves (I know, we call her "mother") is when we bring Lucy by.  We went to Capitol Park today to photograph the magnolia trees, so we dropped Lucy off on our way.  The pink and lavender blooms are hypnotic and we timed our visit so we just missed the showers.

The Camellias were also gorgeous and abundant.  I was taking photos with our fairly new Leica Q camera.  Man, the optics are phenomenal.  This is the only fully automatic Leica camera, which is a boon for me because my eyesight doesn't allow me to shoot manually anymore.

After fun in the park, we  had a yummylicious lunch at Hock Farm.  I had shrimp and grits with an ancho chili oil, and Steve had very good pork sliders.  Steve is explaining something very important to me here.  So important I can no longer recall what it was.  And that, my friends, is the way it goes.

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday Musings (on Family)

Today is my dad's 84 birthday. 

This is a passport photo of him with his mother.  Must have been about 12.  He was traveling between Venezuela and upstate New York, where he went to a Quaker boarding school.
photo by Steve Barbour

He has very fond memories of that school, and he is now on the Board of Directors.  He goes back several times a year for projects and meetings.

Tonight my younger sis and I are making his request: green chili chicken enchiladas with beans and chips and Mexican beer.

My husband took this color photo of my daughter and me yesterday.  We had all kinds of family for the weekend.  Steve's daughter and her family (whom I  had not yet met) from up north, his local daughter and her family, and my daughter and her family from Santa Cruz.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  All four of the grandchildren got along perfectly.  We figured out (because the older grands asked) that Eden is a cousin by marriage.

Steve and I really dig each others' kids.  What luck.  All of them are smart, sophisticated, liberal, funny and genuinely good people.  And the grandkids - whoa.  Obviously they reflect their parents' values and personalities.  My 'new' grand daughter I met just this weekend is particularly sharp: she was crackin' me up with her wit.  I think we have some future cooking projects planned.

I know that not all families get along.  I certainly don't with my mother's side of the family.  We've been estranged for many decades.  No loss there, I assure you.  This weekend was so satisfying in so many ways, and makes me incredibly grateful for the current state of family affairs.

My dad is working on his memoirs, and will be ready to go to print very soon.  He is a wonderful writer, witty and entertaining.  The book will be a treasure for the family, for generations to come.  Steve and I will be leaving our kids many books of our photography, and hopefully they will be cherished as well.  I love looking back at the generations.

Aunt Ama Lou in Balboa Park, 1940s.
Hopefully our kids and their kids will as well.

Friday, February 12, 2016


Tara Crowley. All rights Reserved.
Another Friday rolls around.  The mister and I got a good amount of yard work done yesterday, and my entire body is sore.  Jaysus but I've gone brilliantly soft.

This photo is not of our house, but it is what our house feels like to us.  We are tucked under a large cedar tree in front, and I love sitting under it (or swinging in the hammock under it) because I feel I'm in the deep woods instead of a tiny plot of land, cheek to jowl with neighbors and roadways.

Telling my husband yesterday that the longest time I've spent living in any one place is 5.5 years.  I spent an awful lot of my childhood being moved from city to city.  Then I repeated in my adulthood, mainly because I rented and rents would be raised, or landlords would sell.  When I did own my house with a former partner, that only lasted 3 years before we broke up.  Bye bye house.

I look forward to being here with my darling for many, many years to come.  We enjoy our house and yard projects, completing them slowly and on a small scale.  Yesterday it was another annual ritual of spreading 2 yards of mulch in the back, where the lawn used to be.  Some day, perhaps a pergola with grape vines and a plank table underneath.

My younger sister and her husband are selling the house they've lived in for 23 years.  Empty nesters now, they don't need something quite so large.  It's a beautiful old Spanish style house in one of the greatest neighborhoods in the city.  I have no earthly idea what it must be like to live somewhere for 23 years!

I look forward to finding out.

Have a lovely weekend.  Enjoy your domestic bliss.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday Musings (On Being an Artist)

Lately I have been re-working many photos from months and years ago.  With my new-found skills at some post editing, I am able to finally create the image I had envisioned when I made the picture.

The thing about being an artist (just one): I love it when people love my work.  I love that they get as excited about an image as I do.  The other thing about being an artist (just one): don't expect to actually sell your work, except once in a blue moon.

I recently sold a picture of Half Dome in Yosemite that I took in December 2015.  It is one of my best photographs, I know, and I am quite pleased with it.  This is the first time I've sold an image in a long long time.  I came to terms with this state of affairs many years ago.  So why does it still bug me?  I guess because I feel my work is getting better and better, and yet, there is a teeny tiny audience for it.

I'm not alone.  There are photographers who I greatly admire, whose work is mind-blowing, and they are not successful at selling either.  It's a bit like expecting to make it big in Hollywood: oodles of aspirants and very few working actors.

I'll just keep doing what I do, because it brings me pleasure.  It provides an avenue for me to interact with the world around me.  And that, my friends, is a wonderful thing.

Tara Crowley, 2014. All Rights Reserved.
Tara Crowley, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

But seriously, folks, do you know anybody who manages or owns a gallery?!

Friday, February 5, 2016


My husband and I went to a vintage camper show this past week.  What a hoot!  We were lusting over the beautiful homes on wheels with all the period decor and furniture.  Campers mostly from the 1940s and 50s.  Such nostalgia.  I only camped in a camper one time: around 10 years old when an aunt and cousins joined up with my mom and us to camp at Big Basin.  I have fond memories of that trip.  At ten years old, it was like playing house for days!

Later in the week, I pulled an all nighter. Fueled by gawd knows what electric juice, I stayed up until 5:00 a.m. putting this book together:  The People of Cuba.  Images from my  March 2015 trip, I focused on showing people instead of buildings and places.  The book is large format, hardcover, so it sells for a whopping $63.  That's no profit on my part.  Zip. Zilch.  It's just too damned complicated to set up a site as an official 'seller' with tax ID number etc. etc.

I received a grand compliment from a photographer friend, that makes me blush to think of it.  I am indeed proud of the work in the book, and proud that I stuck with the project.  You can purchase a PDF copy for a mere $4.99.

In other news, I realize now that our next trip will be upon us before we know it.   House/dog sitter is secured, travel arrangements made.  France and Spain, here we come!  I expect to fall in love with France in particular -- how could I not?  Barcelona will be our only destination in Spain and I am looking forward to meeting our friend L. who lives there.  High on the must see list is the Picasso museum and the Joan Miro museum.  Not to mention the off-beat Gaudi buildings.

Once again, the advantages of retirement are glaringly bright.  I can pull an all nighter and not worry about how I'm going to function the next day.  It's been 5.5 years now and the work dreams are getting fewer and fewer.  Sometimes they still crop up and take me by surprise.  Dreams are a weird and wonderful thing to me.  I used to keep a journal of them, for many years.  I dreamed two doozies this week; in one I was having an all-out brawl with one of my sisters, and the other involved watching a man 'surfing' down a mountain only to loose his balance and go flying off the cliff.  His scream was chilling and I knew he was falling to his death.  Still can't get that scream out of my head.

Must be all the uncertainty around the state of our nation and world that's got me so riled up.  Time to bury myself in a novel.  I just picked up Be Frank With Me: A Novel  by Julia Claiborne Johnson (thank you Elizabeth for the recommendation).

I hope you have a Happy Weekend, with no nightmares! That's what I'll be aiming for.

It's not a terrible thing that we feel fear when faced with the unknown. 

It is part of being alive, something we all share.      ~Pema Chodron

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Winner Is...

"We" had a little contest on Facebook.  The prize is one of my calendars for 2016.  Who won?

La Trish!


La mujer bella de Mexico!
Tara Crowley. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Monday Musings (Caucus THIS)

If you are like me, dear reader, you throw about the term "caucus" like you know what you're talking about. I think I used to understand what the process was, but the facts have gotten away from me over the years. So I have been doing a little research. And you know what? The Democratic Party caucus system makes no sense. The Republicans actually have it right on this one. One delegate, one vote, secret ballot. Just like a general election.
I have no patience for this kind of thing. The circuits in my brain begin to smoke when I imagine being among a throng of devoted citizens who are each championing their candidate's cause. I have a sister who is a lobbyist, and if her rhetoric and doggedness is any indication, it is crazy town in those caucuses.

I suppose if I have no patience for this kind of thing, I can't very well complain about who is my party's nominee.  I have forfeited my right to grouse since I abdicated my responsibility.  See, already there is an impediment to normal every day folks participating in selecting the party nominee.  Only the hard-core political animals amongst us can stomach this stuff.

So, on to Iowa tonight.  Little tiny rural Iowa.  Absolutely non-representative of the country as a whole.  Sigh.  (Can you image the outcry if California were an early caucus state?  Oh my, those lefties on the left coast are determining the future of the party!)  I continue to hope that Bernie Sanders is our party's choice.  It's a long shot but so it goes.  My views don't usual prevail on the national political scene and I am used to bitter disappointment.

And on the GOP side of things in Iowa?  Please.  Don't we all have better things to do this fine day?


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